Circular Food Supply Chain: Its Challenges and Opportunities
Dr Manoj Dora
20th March 2019 at 13:00pm
Mithras House, University of Brighton
The amount of food that is wasted each year will rise by 2030 under the current linear model, when 2.1bn tons will either be lost or thrown away, equivalent to 66 tons per second. This is enough to feed nearly two billion people at a time when worldwide hunger is growing. This costs us 1.2 trillion dollars every year on food we do not eat. This is when about 815 million of the 7.6 billion people in the world (10.7%) were suffering from chronic undernourishment in 2016 (FAO). Additionally, food waste and loss accounts for 8% of global greenhouse gas emissions (FAO). Where does this happen and what are the causes? In developing countries 40% of losses occur at post-harvest and processing levels while in industrialized countries more than 40% of losses happen at retail and consumer levels. In developing countries food waste and losses occur mainly at early stages of the food value chain and can be traced back to financial, managerial and technical constraints in harvesting techniques as well as storage and cooling facilities. In medium- and high-income countries food is wasted and lost mainly at later stages in the supply chain. Differing from the situation in developing countries, the behavior of consumers plays a huge part in industrialized countries.
We need a transformation! Our current model is LINEAR – TAKE, MAKE, USE, DISPOSE. We TAKE raw material from the nature, we MAKE something, We USE or DON’T USE, and finally DISPOSE. For example: In a supermarket, food that is still good but needs to be removed from shelves —often due to inventory or overstock reasons—typically heads to the landfill. We need a NEW approach to tackle this global stubborn challenge. A CRICULAR approach – REUSE, RECYCLE, REMAKE, REDISTRIBUTE to ensure zero food waste in the food chain. For instance, misshapen or slightly blemished fruits and vegetables that don’t meet the strict cosmetic requirements of supermarkets—are a big part of the food waste problem, but they can play an important role in circular economics. Retailers typically accept only about 60-80 percent of farmers’ produce due to cosmetic reasons. Sometimes farmers will leave perfectly good, yet imperfect crops to rot in the fields or distributors will toss them. We need a system and supportive organizations which can make use of these products. Manufacturing waste and byproducts in the food industry also present opportunity in the circular economy. We need to help redesign the supply chain so that it accommodates the re-integration of waste into the productive cycle. Food distributors, supermarkets, and vendors may be incurring excessive costs from food waste. Engage consumers to actively shape the demand for sustainable products.
Dr Manoj Dora is passionate about food AND the supply chain. His research is an innovative application of cross-cutting operations management theories such as Lean and Six Sigma in the agriculture and food sector which will redesign agricultural production as it is today to improve efficiency and eliminate waste and losses. He has developed a “Lean toolbox to make food supply chain and logistics more efficient and sustainable”. He has been involved in many capacity building initiatives focusing on food security worldwide. He has published extensively and disseminated in reputed fora such as TEDx and the University of Cambridge-Festival of Ideas.